School supplies purchased: CHECK.
Book bag packed: CHECK.
New pair of jeans and shoes: CHECK.
Ready or not, it’s back to school they go! Once again, summer has flown by at breakneck pace.
My kids’ big news was that their school lunches began to look a little different, a little healthier – oh my! Hurrah! Kids now receive both a fruit and a vegetable. Their grains are whole grain. Inroads are being made on fat, sodium and calorie content of meals.
Parents – I challenge you to do a little quality control check on your lunches – are they in line with the latest health recommendations for your kids? How would you grade yourself? Need help with remembering your nutrition basics? Go to the tip sheet on ChooseMyPlate.com and get 10 solid tips to get you moving in the right direction.
No doubt, “back to school” brings a flurry of activity. And as we adjust schedules and get in the groove, don’t forgot to plan ahead that all-important evening meal with your family. How many times have we all come home from work with no answer to the all-important question: “What’s for dinner?”
I see in practice that the primary reason people make poor food choices is they have no plan. “Life” got in the way. Too busy. Too many commitments and obstacles. Healthy food choices are literally on the back burner!
Remember the old proverb: He who fails to plan, plans to fail. We all innately know planning your eating saves you time and money and can really bolster your health if you choose the right foods.
Now, let’s learn how to apply it.
- Google® free downloadable, printable weekly “meal template” calendars. Put down at least five weeknight meals your family enjoys. Choose meals that match your schedule and time allotted for cooking. Not a fancy way to go, but it works. Post on your refrigerator.
Better yet – go to www.mealsmatter.org. Sign in (free) and begin your on-line meal planning grid. This coordinates to a shopping list. Online recipes are there as well! Very cool! This is a complimentary service of the Dairy Council of California.
Want healthy “kid friendly” meal ideas? One of my favorite web sites is Meal Make Over Moms.
- Make your shopping list by referencing what you already have on hand. Be organized as you shop, listing needed items according to location in the grocery store.
- Do any pre-prep you can ahead of time to get your week started (chop, thaw, etc.). Get the whole family involved in cooking and helping out. Try a new recipe or two every week. Have your family “rate” the recipes! Create a “Meal Master” of your favorite family meals that you can refer to.
- Try to make at least a few dishes each week that can be doubled. Serve that night, freeze the rest for another night. Be creative and even do “theme” nights: Monday is Italian night; Tuesday is stir fry night; Wednesday is soup night, and so forth.
So now, (whew, breathe a sigh of relief!) planning is half the battle! Stick to your plan and make it happen.
Families – share your tips here about the ways you have made meal time in your house fun, healthy and efficient!